It’s been two weeks since Lost last hit screens, so right now, any fan worth their salt has long since been driven into shivering, paranoid withdrawal, spending their days reciting the numbers over and over again in a vain attempt to divine some meaning from them. Well, that’s all come to an end now. This week, Lost came back, and after a two week gap, it had to really pull out the stops to satisfy a jonesing public.
And if there was any ever doubt: it did. Overall, season 5 has been an odd beast, unsure of how to structure itself and floundering a little as a result. The last few episodes, however, have snapped things back into focus, concentrating on the characters once again instead of leaving them subject to the whims of plot-driven fatalism. This episode sees the Oceanic five-sixths reunited with the Lefties for the first time in three years, and there’s more than a little tension in that meeting alone.
Juliet and Sawyer’s life together, steadily built over the course of their time in the Dharma Initiative, is instantly threatened by the return of Kate. It’s clear that Juliet immediately senses that, even if Sawyer doesn’t even realise that his feelings for Kate are driving his actions. Meanwhile, the tension between Jack and Sawyer returns almost instantly, though this time it’s accompanied by a change in their dynamic, since Sawyer is the leader now – Jack’s just a janitor. Indeed, for the first time, I have to praise Matthew “Speed Racer” Fox’s ability to act the line “Janitor? Don’t you know I’m an accomplished spinal surgeon?!” with a single, mute facial expression. Maybe there’s hope for him yet.
One character distinctly lacking in hope is Sayid. Naveen Andrews also deserves praise for his acting – you could practically hear Sayid trying to ask Sawyer what was going on with a nothing but a glance here and a raised eyebrow there. In an episode full of appropriately and satisfyingly subtle performances, his was probably the finest.
Lost wouldn’t be Lost without two questions for each answer. This week, we find out where Sun is, and where Sayid is, but we’re also teased with the lingering questions of where Daniel is – if he’s even still alive – and how Sawyer managed to integrate so completely into the Dharma Initiative. Elsewhere (or rather, elsewhen), we see Sun and Frank meet the increasingly prominent Christian Shepherd, as his importance to the Lost canon continues to grow.
The ruins of the induction centre encountered by Sun and Frank serve as a sore reminder that the Dharma Initiative and its members are all destined to meet a premature end, and that alone acts as a ticking time-bomb for the rest of the Oceanic Six – although, let’s face it, the atomic bomb the Hostiles buried in the 50s is playing the real ‘Sword of Damocles’ role in this season.
Viewers are probably resigned, now, to the reality that Lost’s continuity and canon are so well-developed that twists are simple to guess. Let me tell you, if it wasn’t immediately obvious to you that the child was going to be Ben even before you saw his face, you really haven’t been paying proper attention so far. For a show once built around shocking reveals, it could be almost depressing to see it become a predictable shadow of its former self, but in order to sidestep that, the writing has tightened up and the performances are actually getting better, if that seems possible. If the overall quality of each episode stays as high as it has been recently then the shock endings themselves won’t be remotely missed – there really is much more to this show than ‘what happens next?’
Check out a review of episode 8 here.